Posts filed under ‘Special Rants’
ISIS has only one use of women – as sex slaves – and kills the rest if over 40. Indeed, a mass grave was discovered when Kurdish fighters recovered territory in Iraq held by ISIS since August 2014 that included the bodies of women, aged 40-80, who had been discarded for their lack of utility for the Islamic State. These Medieval war lords, intent on creating a new world disorder, cannot be allowed to drive world conversations into a sadly regressive series of skirmishes. Leadership must create opportunity to undermine despair.
As terrorism spread across Paris Friday evening, another important news item slipped to the inside pages of International News despite being covered by the BBC, the New York Times, and papers from Boston to Los Angeles. While the atrocities had occurred in the past, the existence of the mass grave for Yazidi women between 40 and 80 is another reminder that we are dealing with humanity’s lowest common denominator. As we sit poised on dystopia, the classically maternal nurturing response deserves a voice lest the martyrdom of these women presage the fall of civilization.
ISIS violates the social contract that we all have with one another…that we can pursue our individual lives in private and public places, secure in the knowledge that there are things we will not do to one another. Marauders who live by the invader’s motto of killing the men, raping the women, and burning the villages are so anachronistic; yet, we are living and dying with them in horrific fashion. And they wish to claim their place in the annals of world power.
The convergence of the G20 Economic Summit, Middle Eastern unrest, and the new age of terrorism in the Western World is unsettling. However, the context can and should help us find our way. A knee-jerk response to a vicious attack is overwhelmingly weighted toward a show of force in return. And the uncharacteristically militaristic action taken by France is understandable. Still, even as we stand by France, we must show restraint from the sidelines.
The world needs a new, healthy economy. The Middle East needs a path to peace. And the terrorists who are consolidating power in the vacuum created by political unrest, poverty, and powerlessness need a worthy competitor dealing in hope.
In 2001, the Bush-Cheney White House unwittingly acted like war lords in retrospect rather than leading the world as proactive preventers of terrorist. We have been caught up on the battlefield ever since. Unfortunately, this regressive posture is reinforced by the threat of the unknown in a new world economic order that is no longer centered in the West. We need to be fearless…but that does not mean warlike.
Each nation of the world must find its core strengths and economic balance in both its local and international posture. War-torn lands must be rebuilt. Factors of production and workers must re-emerge across the globe in modern, sustainable fashion, displacing 18th century techniques that are cheap, environmentally destructive, and imminently dangerous.
People who are not valued can be made indifferent in their allegiance to good or evil. A world response that sees possibilities for mankind can and must be grounded in a vision of peace and prosperity. Without that, our descent into chaos and disorder will render leadership irrelevant. The G20 may seem powerless for the moment, but they are deciding their own fate.
The legal ability of banks to package their riskiest assets into blind investment instruments greatly reduced risk for the bankers themselves. Instead of managing risk, they simply exported it to their trust customers via paper transactions. To complicate matters, the act of reducing the penalties for risky behavior among bankers led them to engage in less prudent behavior, again creating a burden for the market…all the while collecting fees for this disservice to all but the industry’s most powerful clients. This behavior continues today as non-productive financial assets are proliferating, edging out real investments in capital assets and long-term shareholder value. Without external intervention this generously rewarded behavior will not change.
The US economy cannot flourish with distributor margins. A few decades ago, as a young analyst, I studied shareholder value creation while working for a hospital supply company. The CEO was leading the company through a change from a sales growth model to a profitable growth model that created real shareholder value. The firm was an industry leader, but its share price had languished despite double digit revenue gains for most of its history. A cornerstone of the strategy was vertical integration into manufacturing.
Fast forward to 2015, and we are faced with a dysfunctional US market that is looking for growth in all the wrong places…because they forgot what real shareholder value means. Having divested the supply function in almost every industry, Wall Street has hidden behind smoke screens of paradigm shifts and non-productive market activity while losing its footing in value added to the economy…and they will not change as long as we pay them to do this. At its gloomiest, one could question whether capitalism, or even the US economy, will actually exist when the cycle completes.
Manufacturers across the US divested their supply functions and replaced them with lower cost producers offshore. The co-existence of supply-side incentives in the US with the transfer of the supplier function left corporations and investment houses with excess cash. Banks diligently created new paper assets for trading, as if our money benefited from a sort of isometric workout in the absence of production in the US economy. And the fees for traders and brokers grew even as our economy stagnated. Indeed there is no incentive for the financial services industry to stop their cycle of spinning flax…for them it really does generate gold.
Dubious analysts were labeled as unclear on the whole global economy concept, and the other great paradigm shift – In technology – apparently justified underwriting bubble machines for technology stocks. In reality, the US simultaneously shifted from an industrial nation to a distribution economy AND moved product promotion and distribution to the Internet. Granted, it is a lot to digest; however, we have presumed new value creation that does not exist. Distributor margins put skid marks on profits that could not be offset by revenue gains. And the great promise of the New Economy on the Internet has thus far only yielded zero sum shifts from traditional advertising and sales outlets to virtual ones. Exceptions exist, but they have become overvalued and, eventually, sources of booms and busts on Wall Street.
Our retirement funds are not growing. Our jobs are not expanding in the right places. Our youth already reflect our future, polarized between the entitlement of wealth and privilege and the lean existence of the underemployed and profoundly indebted. No group better demonstrates the injustice and unsustainability of income inequity. And the market thrives…churning out transactions with no end game a sane person would want to explore.
I suggest investing in Sports Medicine…because capitalism’s Invisible Hands are severely broken, and whoever figures out how to fix them will make a fortune.
Corporations are not people. The people they represent are not necessarily US citizens. And their tax money shows their allegiance to foreign nations. Other than that, the Citizens United case decided by the Supreme Court in 2010 merely violates the balance of power between a free market economy and democracy as a core principle of the American way of life. Political corruption and economic tyranny can be the only outcomes in the end.
Until a corporation can register to vote and walk into a polling place to cast a single vote, it is not a person. In the meantime, however, we have a serious problem thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 that determined that corporations were people. Since then, campaigns financed by corporate sponsors have controlled a significant number of elections in the US, effectively hijacking the democratic process from real people. Within individual states, outsiders are determining who will run for office to represent the residents in both houses of the Congress. And, at the national level, presidential politics have similarly come under the control of anonymous PACs of people.
The power money comes from multinational corporations. And their shareholders, to whom they hold allegiance, represent more or less every nation in the world. So, how can a corporate “person” promise us that it is an American citizen and only serves the interests of American people? Decades before the Citizens United case came to court, these same US corporations already had taken tax breaks for supply-side economics and used them to finance the transfer operations out of the US and create jobs in other nations. And this has not been their only odd way of saying thank you in the US.
Outsourcing jobs offshore was supposed to ensure low-cost supply functions, greater profits, and eventual payback in the US. Unfortunately, a lot of profits have remained pooled offshore. And worse, not all of these corporate citizens have been satisfied with their US headquarters. Indeed, the trend has been to find a nation with a lower corporate tax rate*, invest in a small company there, and transfer the corporate assets and headquarters to that foreign office, effectively renouncing US corporate registration. This process, known as corporate inversion, means that taxes on the profits from US tax breaks to support supply-side economics are actually paid to a foreign nation. Even your corner drugstore, Walgreens, had considered a corporate inversion recently, but yielded to political pressure to delay action.
Not to worry, our domestic representatives of these foreign corporations will continue to demand supply-side concessions in the wake of our sorry employment situation in the US. And, most ironically, they will continue to win elections supported by the Tea Party faithful and other Cretan Paradox sufferers under the banner of “taking back America.”
As I mentioned in my last post…
“The US is defined by a political economy based on democracy and capitalism. The balance they maintain is essential to our freedom. Free market capitalism – not monopolies – are theoretically protected under our constitution. And, because one must have money to play in the free market, the democratic process allows for political will to be exerted over economic processes if poverty excludes too many Americans from the competition. Yet a bad Supreme Court decision has placed capitalists as the masters of both politics and the economy. This can only end badly if left unchallenged.”
This mess really needs to be cleaned up in 2015. There will be too much at stake in 2016 elections for us to leave our destinies in the hands of the incredibly visible hand of the un-free market.
* Conservatives have used this discrepancy in corporate tax rates to call for lowering rates in the US. However, nations with lower corporate tax rates often have higher personal income tax rates to make up the difference. These same politicians are not likely disclose such details or to seek that balance.
Time to Wake Up & Restore Balance in Our Political Economy Under 1 US flag Only, Please
Apparently the crux of the matter that necessitated the Civil War has not been resolved. Pride in our nation and its basic constructs has not been enough…even 150 years later. Some significant number of Americans believes that their right to honor major proponents of slavery is more important than our belief that all men are created equal…that their right to celebrate Confederate “honor” supersedes the dignity and pursuit of happiness of people of color, people whose ancestors were kidnapped, displaced by an ocean, imprisoned, sold into slavery, and even forced to fight under a Confederate flag. Ironically, many offenders are political conservatives who seek to “take back America” while turning a blind eye to the deepest erosion of American values.
The American way of life is at risk. Corporations are people [sic] who dominate our formerly representative form of government based on democratic elections. Voting rights are no longer guaranteed to be free or accessible to all. More than half of American school children live in poverty, and most have no access to equity in education, both potent dream killers. Liberty and justice are mired in racial bias. And freedom of assembly carries more weight for white people than non-white people, for the rich more so than the poor. In short, our words are being undermined by our actions. All people are not born equal.
The US is defined by a political economy based on democracy and capitalism. The balance they maintain is essential to our freedom. Free market capitalism – not monopolies – are theoretically protected under our constitution. And, because one must have money to play in the free market, the democratic process allows for political will to be exerted over economic processes if poverty excludes too many Americans from the competition. Yet a bad Supreme Court decision has placed capitalists as the masters of both politics and the economy. This can only end badly if left unchallenged.
The skirmishes over Southern heritage and honor have become a smoke screen over the unseen concessions to the larger American way of life under the US Constitution. We cannot protect our deepest constructs unless we collectively embrace concepts of freedom for all, equal access under the law, and protection from economic tyranny. Instead, however, our society is becoming polarized and ethnocentric as we protect shrinking shares of wealth while economic and political power is increasingly concentrated for the 1% at the top of an oligopoly.
Why isn’t America enough for the Confederate flag wavers? The reflections of too many people over the past and their unrepentant obsession with the dubious tyranny of white supremacist thought are mind-boggling. Give it up. We face real challenges to our greater way of life. We can only rebuild our nation in the words of our founding fathers if we collectively walk the walk of the free and the brave even as we acknowledge the profound irony of the flawed society in which those words were written.